Page images

Commons had been defeated ; and that prerogative now reigned triumphant. A misguided people had been taught to desert their natural guardians, and fly for protection to the Crown: he made no doubt but the day would come sehen they would have cause to repent that they had lent a hand to degrade their own representatives; their repentance he feared would come too late. For his own part, he felt the degradation of the Commons so sensibly, and was so fully convinced of the infignificancy of a member in the present degraded state of the representatives of the people, that he was resolved to withdraw himself from his attendance in a Houfe, which had been facrificed by its constituents, to the prero.

gative of the Crown. Mr. Powys. Mr. Powys rose.-The Minister, he said, and the House

had engaged in a constitutional contest, in which the House had been conquered by the Minister. He would not agree however with the honourable Baronet behind him, that the people had joined the Minister, and assisted him in fubduing the House; they had never yet had an opportunity to give an opinion on the subject; the appeal had not yet been made to them by a dissolution; then, and not before, could the people be said to give an opinion : of that appeal he was not in the least afraid; for he doubted not but the lapse of three or four weeks would undeceive the public, and shew the conduct of their representatives in a very different light from that in which it had industriously been held up to them for some time past. An alliance between the people and the Crown against their own representatives, was too unnatural to be lasting; and they must soon be freed from the illusion, that makes them fly from the House of Commons to the Crown for protection, if it was true that they did so. An address in favour of Administration had been sent to the Throne from a very nunerous and respectable body of freeholders, in a town belonging to the county that he had the honour to represent; and yet so conscious was he that the lapse of a few weeks would set the conduct of the majority of the House in a respectable point of view, that to this very body of respectable freeholders he would commit his hopes for his re-election, in the fullest confidence that he should be able to convince them that he had represented them faithfully, uprightly, honestly, and that in the present feflion he had been guided in every step he had taken, by a desire to preferve, inviolate and unimpaired, that Conftitution, the defence of which they had committed to his charge. In the beginning of the seffion he opposed the India bill, because


few went; and "ging tos and read beersey did 1.o

quence.efying the Hod been brou nity man would not meansCommons to office for

he wished to guard the House from every foreign and uncona, ftitutional influence. He resifted the first efforts made by the majority against the present Administration ; but when these efforts had succeeded so far, that what might originally have been thought a party question was become a great con-. stitutional question, he soon took post on that fide which stood up manfully for the privileges of the people against prerogative. The right honourable gentleman on the Trea, fury bench, by his conduct and the answers he had advised the King to give to the Addresses of the House, confirmed the opinion that he had been brought into office for the pur; pose of defying the House of Commons and sinking its consequence. He did not mean to say that the right honourable gentleman would intentionally set about to destroy the dig. nity of the House; but unquestionably, if the mere over- : turning the late Administration, and their India bill had been the wish of those who brought him into office, they would have diffolved the Parliament, and appealed to the people. - If the India bill was the cause of the dismission of the late Administration, it was not possible that the new Ministers could expect support from the present House of Commons, who were, in fact, parties to that bill; and therefore to look for support from them, shewed there were hopes that they should fall into inconsistency, and consequently into contempt, by turning about, and changing their opinion with the change of Ministers. Fully aware of this, and desirous to preserve the House of Commons from contempt, he had told that right honourable gentleman, that either his Administration or the Parliament must be dissolved, for both could not stand together. But as no diffolution of the latter took place, the degradation of the Cominons inust have been a favourite measure somewhere, and' as soon as he discovered this, he opposed that measure. It was upon this ground that he had been charged with inconsistency; but if it was understood that he was to bind himself to a measure that had for object the degradation of the representatives of the people, he would say to the right honourable gentleman, non hæc in fædera veni; He was forry, however, to say, that notwithftanding the manly stand made by the majority, of which he. had the honour to be one, the right honourable gentleman had conquered the House of Commons; and that he held his situation in defiance of their addresses. The answers that he and his colleagues advised the King to give these addresses, did not appear to come from persons who knew that his Maa jesty held his Crowa by a vote of Parliament; if they did, Vol. XIII.



that chat in the rich for hoa

they would not have advised him to treat with fo little cere.. mony, a vote of the House of Commons, for the removal of Ministers. The House was indeed conquered ; for though a vote of the Commons could once bestow a Crown, it could not now procure the difiniffion of a Minifter. As he had been often charged with inconsistency, he would this day give some force to that charge, by voting for a long Mutiny bill, and thereby putting it in the power of Ministers to dilo solve the Parliainent; a measure which for some time past he had been endeavouring to prevent. Such a measure might have been proper at the very out set of the present Adininis ftration ; but in a little time after, it would have been dan. gerous. However, he was now willing to let Ministers run their mad career'; he was convinced a diffolution would be ruinous; but the Commons were conquered, and it would be in vain for him to oppose a triumphant Minister, full of confidence in the mettle of the troops that surrounded him. He had once, he said, given a description of the forces that opposed the present Administration; he would now, with the leave of the House, defçribe thofe that were led by the right honourable gentleman on the Treasury bench. The first might be called his body, guard, composed of light young troops, who shot their little arrows, with amazing dexterity, against those who refused to swear alliance to their chief. The second might be called the corps of royal volunteers, ftauch champions for prerogative, ever ready to fall with determined valour upon those, who Nhould dare to oppose privilege to prerogative, or arraign the conduct of their chief. The third was á legion composed of de. serters, attached to their leader by no other principle than that of interest; and who after having deserted to him from that principle, would desert from him on the fame grounds, when they saw their interest would suffer, if they should stand by him. Such were the component parts of the army, that had triumphed over the House of Com. mons, and conquered the Constitution. The House now felt the inward and, invisible grace, though he could not at that moment, he said, looking round him for a member whom we are afraid to name, see the outward vilble Ggn of it. His honourable friend, (Mr. Marsham) had been yesterday called upon to read a letter from a noble Duke; he had not the letter about him at that time, but he understood he had it this day, and would read it to the House; but before it should be read, he begged leave to state the

, , balance

balance of the debtor and creditor's hide of the account, between the right honourable gentleman in office and the noble Duke who had written that letter, in the negotiation, in which he had borne a part. There were three things that the Minister required as preliminaries to an union. One, that a noble Lord should not make part of the Cabia net; that noble Lord, with a degree of public spirit that did him infinite honour, had expressed a readiness to with: draw his pretensions to a share in Administration, and thus remove this obstacle to union. Secondly, he required that the objectionable parts of the India bill should be given up.. In compliance with this requisition, and from a desire to promote union, the right honourable gentleman had confented to concede to the Minister the most exceptionable part of that bill, namely, that part that related to the pa. tronage of India, and leave the rest open to discussion. Thirdly, he required that the noble Dúke should consent to an interview with him, upon fair and equal terms. On the other hand, the noble Duke and his friends demanded three things; the first, that the Minister should virtually resign; but this was a concession that he refused to make. It was next asked, that the message sent by Lord Sydney,' relative to an interview for forming a new Administration, fhould, by the Duke and his friends, be construed to mean a virtual resignation; but this was a concession that the Miniso ter would not make. Secondly, the noble Duke desired that he might receive the message relative to an interview, from His Majesty in person, that he might have the authority of His Majesty's name to propose to his friends a plan for an arrangement; but this concession also the Minister refused to make. The last thing required by the noble Duke, was, that the word equal, in the invitation to meet on fair and equal terms, might be explained ; but this the Minister likewise refused to do. The noble Duke fuggested an explanation of it in these words, “ That all pole sible attention should be paid to terms of fairness and equality.” But this would not do; for the Ministers feemed dètermined to make no concession whatever. Thus stood the balance between both parties; one ready to make every concession, the other none; so that, like the reciprocity of the peace, the concession was all on one side, But why . should a triumphant Minister make concessions. He found his opponents ready to concede every thing for the public good ; and when he found so much pliancy on one side, he

O'O 2

filted an likewile terme ord en


had no occasion to shew any on his. But surely this conduct argued an inconsistency in the right honourable geritleman; for when the peace he made had been censured by the House of Commons, he thought it his duty to retire'; but now he could stand in defiance of the very fame House; and that' to whose opinion he once bowed submissive, he

was not afraid to trample upon. : . . The Chan - The Chancellor of the Exchequer said the honourable gentlecelor of the man had amused himself and the House, by describing the Exchequer.

“ different corps that supported Administration. He was cer

tainly much in the right to display his talent at description, for which he was so well qualified; for having once described the oppofite army, while he opposed it, it was now fit that he should describe that which he now opposed, but which he formerly fought with. He was resolved to shew how able he could appear on either fide of a question ; and with what powers of eloquence he could, without any visible cause, oppose an Administration that he had once supported. The first corps, he said, was composed of light archers, who threw their little arrows with great dexterity: probably the honourable gentleman's armour had not been fo strong aś to be proof against the darts of these archers; for those little arrows, which he affected so much to defpife, seemed to have galled him not a little. As to the prerogative volunteers, which formed a second band, he was proud of their support, because neither they nor he could be fond of prerogative, without being fond of the constitution, for the prerogative was part of it ; nor could he for the same reason be an enemy to the House of Commons; it was a part of the constitution, and consequently to him an object of veneration. He could not conceive why the honourable gentleman should call the other band "deferters," merely because they did not think proper to go the lengths to which others were hurrying the House. The honourable gentleman had an opportunity of knowiog the secrets of the army; for having served on both sides, and having undertaken the task of negociating, he was able to do his friends fignal fervice, by the information he might collect as a spy, while he enjoyed the privileges and immunities of an Ambassador. The honourable gentleman had stated what he called the debtor and creditor's side of the account, in the negociation for an union. . It might perhaps suit his ideas to state the business as a matter of barter; but as the only object that he had in the transaction was the public good, he considered

itemed to', arrows of againnlen



« PreviousContinue »